By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,456)
The future viability of the working waterfront would be in jeopardy should Question 2 on the November 3rd ballot be passed. That was the message delivered by a coalition of waterfront business owners at a press conference held on Union Wharf this afternoon.
“You are in the heart of the working waterfront,” said Charlie Poole, whose family has owned the wharf for over 200 years. The Poole family is highly-regarded for its willingness and skill in adjusting its strategies to keep Union Wharf a viable and dynamic force on the waterfront. Poole recalled how a referendum that passed in 1987 tied up his hands back then. It took years to recover from that debacle. Poole asked the public not to tie up his hands again by passing Question 2 in 2015, known as the Scenic View Ordinance. The working waterfront has so many other problems to deal with such as dredging that it doesn’t need scenic views to be added to that list Poole said. Other coalition members delivered the same or similar messages to Portland voters; please don’t tie our hands by passing this referendum!
Poole was the first speaker at the press conference and the last speaker was Phin Sprague, Jr., owner of Portland Yacht Services. Ironically, because he was unable to expand his boat yard at 58 Fore Street, he sold the property to CPB2 LLC and relocated it to the western part of Commercial Street. In that location he has had to deal with eminent domain issues with the State, which among other issues, slowed down his work by about a year. “It ‘s not easy to be in business on the Portland waterfront. This ordinance goes way too far,” Sprague said. He said that he will be going before the Planning Board once again for the construction of office buildings for his boatyard. If this referendum passes, he’s not sure how that will go. “Portland needs a boat yard on the waterfront,” he added. (Sprague employs over forty people at his boatyard on Commercial Street.)
A letter to Portland voters was read by Patrick Arnold, Soli DG, Inc., It said in part: “We believe in an active, vibrant, multi-use and multi-purpose working waterfront. We believe views of the working waterfront are important and adequately protected by the existing and extensive land-use laws and ordinances. We believe the working waterfront is Portland’s single-greatest asset. After a thorough review and careful consideration we have come to the collective conclusion that the proposed Scenic View Ordinance places the working waterfront at great risk…….by impeding our ability to make the investments and upgrades necessary to keep our waterfront working and viable. We, the Working Waterfront Coalition, are joining with Portland’s Future to endorse a “NO on # 2” vote. It was signed by twenty-seven Working Waterfront members.